Food as medicine: Pineapple

This past week I have been horribly sick with a productive mucousy cough. I am not one to hate on ‘Big Pharma’, to the contrary I believe we owe an awful lot to modern medicine and I can confidently say I would unlikely be here today without various medical interventions throughout my life (starting from when I was a baby and had stomach ulcers, so thank you Nobel Prize winning scientists Barry J. Marshall and Robin Warren for discovering bacterium Helicobacter pylori as the cause!). However in saying that I believe we can strike a nice balance between more natural remedies and pharmaceuticals.

A lot of pharmaceuticals have basis in natural elements, such as aspirin originally deriving from willow bark extract, and multivitamin supplements being created to fill in nutritional gaps normally met in a healthy varied diet. However most synthetic vitamins don’t have the same array of vitamins and minerals as found in foods.

I feel that a varied diet is vital for optimal health, and while sometimes pharmaceuticals are required to remain healthy, certain foods can aid our health similar to modern medicine.

My absolute favourite food to use as medicine is Pineapple 🍍.

Pineapple contains an enzyme called ‘bromelain’. This enzyme interacts with proteins preventing them from clumping together (the same process that prevents jelly setting when pineapple is added). Mucus is a combination of salt, water and proteins, so as such eating pineapple acts as an mucolytic, thining the mucus making it easier to expel from the body.

I discovered the effectiveness of pineapple while pregnant when I wasn’t able to have cough medicine. I figured since I can eat pineapple regularly while pregnant and I wasn’t eating an excessive dose than why not give it a go. Instead I have discovered something that is cheaper, healthier and way more efficient and completely safe even for my kids to try.

While bromelain has a lot of other unfounded health claims such as helping with arthritis, reducing pain after exercising, speeding up labour and more, for some reason working as a mucolytic isn’t highly mentioned unless you go looking for it. Scientifically there isn’t a lot backing up the efficacy as a cough expectorant yet. Sure you could believe it’s big pharma stopping the information getting out, but more likely is no-one yet seeing the monetary benefit behind completing a scientific study.

In any case using food as medicine can be used to complement more traditional pharmaceutical preparations if you choose, or by themselves. The risks of trying it are minimal, at best it helps relieve a mucousy cough, at worst you get a tasty treat. Why not give it a try next time you’re feeling ill with a productive cough, after all, what have you got to lose?

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